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Willow, Willow

September 3, 2009

willow.jpegNearly every day brings news of another arts organization in financial straits. The latest casualty on the Bay Area performance scene is the Willows Theatre Company. The Concord and Martinez-based company, which has been producing well-trodden, though lively productions in the Bay Area for more than 30 years, has announced that it is facing a financial crisis that may force it to shut down its main-stage facility in Concord and a cabaret in Martinez unless the theater can raise $350,000 by November 1.

It's an old story. And a troubling one. The theatre has been struggling to achieve a balanced budget for more than a year, according to Charles Lewis, board president, and Richard Elliott, artistic director. "We've cut staff, sharply reduced expenses and stretched every scarce dollar, but clearly it is not enough. Any further cuts could put us out of business for good. Clearly, we need help," the duo stated in a press release.

The company is currently presenting productions of Hair and Spelling Bee.

The news doesn't leave me in a very positive frame of mind. Let's hope we don't have to weep for this willow. I feel like quoting a poem by David Harris:

Willow, willow
soft swinging low head
sadness brings night tears
to your breast.

Singing of a night wing
circles in the sky
down in the darkness
a life begins to die.

Willow, willow
no answer to give
sunlight brings bright
eyes exploring where you live.

Songs of happy voices
whisper to the breeze
but no one see the tragedy
that lies beneath the leaves.

Willow, willow
watching the world go by
evening breathes a stillness
near the close of the day.

Cries of distant shadows
and shriek of diving claws
hissing into silence
that will soon engulf them all.

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